Moving more is the key to a host of physical and mental benefits, and working a walk into your day is an easy way to get it done. And since we also need to get enough sleep, it’s a good thing that a daily walk will also help you sleep, improve your mood, and give you more energy.
When you have insomnia, you feel like crap. Previous studies have shown that intense physical exercise will help you sleep, but that can be counterintuitive when you’re feeling zapped to begin with. Newer research shows that taking a simple walk can improve your sleep as well.
That said, there are some criteria to meet here. Here’s how to walk your way to a blissful night’s sleep.
Feel the need for speed
First up, this isn’t a lazy stroll we’re talking about. You’ll need to achieve moderate-to-vigorous intensity, which means a fairly brisk pace. Doctor Susan Besser says you’ll know you’re hitting a high enough pace if you can’t sing or whistle while you’re walking.
Next, it’s smart to be consistent. Walk every day for 25 – 30 minutes in order to promote restful sleep on a regular basis.
And finally, there’s a certain time of the day that’s best to take that walk. In order to best defend against insomnia, the National Sleep Foundation recommends walking in the afternoon to early evening. Close enough to bedtime, but not too close.
Take me for the walk
Does walking beat other forms of exercise? Not at all, except for the ease of doing it. It takes no special equipment or preparation — just walk out the door and get the additional benefits of nature as a bonus.
But whether you’re doing tai chi, yoga, running, or cycling — the important thing is to make it a daily habit. And don’t do it too close to bedtime, or you may find yourself amped up and ironically unable to fall asleep.
Exercise has so many other benefits, so sleeping better may seem like the cherry on top. But if you’re chronically sleep deprived, you could find yourself motivated first and foremost by anything that can help you get healthy, natural sleep.